Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Instant Classic

It's not easy being matched up with Baseball Jesus, but someone had to do it, and Matt Cain was the man on the spot. He got rocked a bit in the 1st inning but then put up six scoreless to keep the Giants close. Stephen Strasburg was a little wild, and had his own troubles in the 1st (31 pitches), but was ultimately quite stingy and kept the Giants quiet. Gregor Blanco had the best at-bats against him, and scored a run in the 2nd to keep the pressure on. Otherwise it looked tough for the home squad, trailing 2-1 after a great seven-inning duel. The Man They Call the Shark was not done, though, and roped a spectacular RBI triple over Bryce Harper's head in the bottom of the 9th off closer Rafael Soriano to tie the game. It was a 1-2 pitch! That was a seriously clutch hit! When Marco Scutaro got a hit with one out in the 10th to bring Pablo Sandoval to the plate, everyone watching the game had one thought: end it, Panda. And end it he did, blasting a monster shot off Yunesky Maya (why didn't they use Drew Storen in that spot?) to get the walk-off win.

It would have been a great game even without the late heroics. Both starters were brilliant in spots: Cain struck out four of the last six he faced and only allowed one hit after the 1st, Strasburg retired the last ten batters he faced. The Nationals turned two double plays early to snuff out the Giants chances, and the Giants pulled off a tough 3-6-1 double of their own in the 5th. Cain made a great play on a comebacker the inning before to get an out at the plate and save a run. Both teams played flawlessly in the field, a relief to Giants fans in particular after a long stretch of poor glove work. It was one of those classic match-ups of great pitchers that actually turned out to be a classic match-up of great pitching. The Giants bullpen deserves a lot of credit for three scoreless innings. Javier Lopez got two outs despite a hit and a walk, then Jean Machi, Sergio Romo, and Jeremy Affeldt retired seven straight. Lopez struck out Adam LaRoche looking with two on and Machi got a comebacker to end the 8th and turn it over to the big guns. The Nats have their own guns in the 'pen--Tyler Clippard was tough in the 8th and Soriano had a 15-inning scoreless streak going before The White Shark got it done in the 9th.

Somehow, again, the Giants found a way to win. Despite Panda's rocket launch, Blanco gets the game ball for his superb work against Strasburg and his ridiculous two-strike, two-out triple to save the day. Buster Posey led off the inning with a single that hit Maya on the foot, and Boch brought in Andres Torres to pinch-run, and he scored easily from first base. Guillermo Quiroz caught the top of the 10th and would have been the next hitter after Sandoval. Giants pitchers laid down nine scoreless innings after the 1st. Add the nine scoreless from last night and the Nats are hurting in the offense department. Let's hope that continues tomorrow afternoon. Madison Bumgarner gets the start against Gio Gonzalez. Two great lefties follow the two big righties.




M.C. O'Connor said...

Nice interview with Cain (Baggs' column).

It's a loooooooooong season, my friends. We should all strive to be as calm and steady as "Old Man" Matt Cain. That was his 245th start last night. Young Mr. Strasburg, by way of comparison, recorded his 55th.

JC Parsons said...

A truly great game, as you say a classic. I was going to be happy even if we didn't pull it out. I mean, losing to Strasberg is no crime. We needed a quality start bad and that is just what Matt gave us. We have a distinct formula that got us those beautiful trophies and we need to regain that identity. Winning anyway possible is always good but winning with STARTING PITCHING is how we roll. It is how we can win it all again

BTW are we still thinking that our level of calmness or excitement actually affects wins or loses? Or are u just suggesting a way to survive a long season. I can understand Cain staying calm but I don't see the value as a fan. Calmness is for old men. I live and die everyday with my team. I really can't control it and I don't plan on trying. It may make me a poor blogger but we already knew that. So be calm if you want but remember its just a silly hobby. Maybe we should save our calm for important, real life situations. I'm just sayin

M.C. O'Connor said...

I love the Giants and enjoy the ups and downs of the season, too. I was nervous as hell last night and you should have heard me scream at the TV after Blanco's triple in the 9th!

I just really like the way successful ballplayers have learned to accept all the variations in performance they go through. It's a fantastic skill to have. When I can embrace that way of living, I find I do things better. I write better, ski better, teach better, etc. If that makes me an old man, fine. I got no beef with old men--I hope I get to be one. I don't have a "calmness" bank account. I don't "use it up" or have to "save" it for "real life." Everything I do is part of my "real life"! Even my silly hobbies.